Plumb the Depths
Space may be home to various alien realms, each one weird and fantastic, but an equally wondrous world lies beneath our oceans’ surfaces. The scenes depicted in the recent Aquaman film may be fictional, but they aren’t far from reality; pressure, salinity and myriad other factors have made the oceans’ depths unique systems unto themselves and extremely hostile to those who aren’t adapted to them.
Despite so, humanity’s penchant for exploration knows no bounds. In 1960, an expedition was made to reach Challenger Deep, the bottom of the Mariana Trench and the deepest known point on Earth. The Swiss-designed and Italian-built bathyscaphe Trieste accomplished the feat with its two-man crew, diving 10,916m below sea level to reach it. Strapped to its hull was the Rolex Deep Sea Special experimental watch, which entered the pitch- dark abyss and surfaced with neither a timing nor reliability issue.
For over half a century, no attempt was made to revisit Challenger Deep. On March 26, 2012, however, Canadian film-maker, explorer and Rolex Testimonee James Cameron undertook the challenge by piloting a submersible aptly christened the Deepsea Challenger back into the Mariana Trench. Incidentally, “James Cameron’s Aquaman” was a story arc through an entire season of Entourage in 2005 (in the hbo series, the film even smashed Spider-man’s opening weekend box office record). Someone else (Australian director James Wan) ended up directing the superhero flick released last December, but Cameron’s plunge into the depths was no less impressive, as the Deepsea Challenger was fitted with modern equipment to collect specimens, visuals and scientific data.
Rolex was, of course, well poised to repeat its performance by accompanying Cameron on his odyssey – the manufacture’s watches are constantly being improved upon, and new technologies and watchmaking techniques would allow it to create a timepiece that’s even more robust than its predecessor. To that end, a new experimental watch, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge, was specially designed and built to prove Rolex’s expertise in extreme waterproofness. The timepiece was strapped to the Deepsea Challenger’s robotic manipulator arm and, like the watch before it, withstood the descent into Challenger Deep’s crushing depths – and the subsequent ascent – while keeping perfect time every step of the way.
Neither the Rolex Deep Sea Special nor the Rolex Deepsea Challenge are commercially produced, since they are experimental timepieces built for a singular purpose. In lieu of these extreme examples of waterproofness, however, one can opt for the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea, which forms Rolex’s trinity of dive watches alongside the Oyster Perpetual Submariner and Oyster Perpetual Sea-dweller.
Engineered to be waterproof to 3,900m and tested with an additional 25 percent safety margin, the Rolex Deepsea is the most robust dive watch offered by the manufacture. It was first introduced in 2008 and received a significant update in 2018. The latest reference comes with an upgraded design, and is powered by one of Rolex’s latest movements with improved timekeeping, robustness and reliability.
Humanity will continue to probe the oceans’ depths, of course, and Cameron’s expedition is but one chapter of this story. Whatever comes next, however, we can be sure that Rolex will likely have an important part to play.
The Deepsea Challenger
James Cameron emerging from the Deepsea Challenger after the solo dive
Rolex Deepsea Challenge